November 27, 2005
Case Law Development: It Takes Two to Make a Common Law Marriage
The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a district court's decision in which the court dismissed a woman's divorce petition and granted her cohabitant of 14 years his petition for forcible entry and detainer to evict her. The woman provided evidence that he had raised her child from a previous relationship as his own and that the only reason he had not adopted the child was that they did not want to reveal to the child that the man was not in fact his biological father. She also provided some evidence that the couple held themselves out as married and evidence that her friends thought they were married. The trial court was more persuaded by the man's testimony that, having been burnt once by divorce, he did not intend to be married and by the evidence that the parties kept all their financial dealings strictly separate. Failing in having established that both parties had a present intent to be married, she became mere tenant.
Toom v. Nagle, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1388 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/appeals/opinions/20051123/05-0437.asp (last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)